It’s been a while …

This entry was posted Wednesday, 6 December, 2006 at 7:06 pm

Yeah, I know. I don’t really remember when was the last posting. I got the left knee injury during a soccer game on September, which pretty much stopping me to have any good sporting fun. Life could changes that sudden… But being lazy is the bottom line. Who else don’t have a busy life? To make up a little bit, I paste a real story below for your refreshment —


Scout Bassett

Scout Bassett

Disability doesn’t hold back Palm Desert golfer Scout Bassett

*Player profile*

*Scout Bassett*

*School:* Palm Desert

*Year:* Senior

*Age:* 18

*Experience:* Two years golf at Petoskey HS in Michigan

PALM DESERT – The new girl sits comfortably in the driver’s seat. She operates the golf cart with her left foot, and on her right is one fine piece of carbon graphite and titanium that is unlike any club in her bag.

Palm Desert High golfer Scout Bassett’s right leg is a prosthesis, an object of derision, the source of strength for a senior who stands only 4-foot-8 and is blessed with a selectively short memory.

“I love that you can finish one really bad hole, and on the next hole, you get a clean slate,” said Bassett, a transfer from Michigan. “I love to start all over.”

But how could she possibly forget her humble beginning, back when she was known as Zhu Fuzhi at an orphanage in Nanjing, China? She was abandoned there as a 1-year-old, presumably because burns that had caused her leg to be amputated made her undesirable under the government’s one-child policy.

The disability didn’t save her from being limited to only two small bowls of rice a day or being subjected to child labor that required her to scrub dishes and floors. The punishment for bad behavior was a bathtub near-drowning, which made the beatings seem almost tame in comparison. Greg Vojtko / The Press-Enterprise Scout Bassett, who lost her right leg and a toe on her left foot due to burns, was adopted from an orphanage in China.

“You ask yourself if there is even a chance you’re going to survive, knowing you have no home, and you’re not loved,” Bassett said. “That was the only thing that got me through those years.”

Only when a blond-haired woman and a balding man appeared at the orphanage with a video camera was there a glimmer of hope. Susi Bassett looked down and fell in love with the 7-year-old, whom she would name after the tomboy in the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Susi and her husband, Joe, had already adopted a girl, Palmer, now 13, on the trip. They went back 10 months later in 1995 for a boy, Carter, now 16, and Scout. “There was nothing there but complete sadness,” said Susi, who learned upon returning home with Palmer that Scout was missing a leg. “I said, ‘Well, that’s all the more she needs us.’ ”

More fearful than thankful for her ticket out of the orphanage, Scout screamed in Mandarin and spit at her new parents, who brought her back to Harbor Springs, Mich., a town of about 1,500 people not accustomed to the sight of a diminutive Chinese adoptee with a disability.

So they stared.

“I didn’t fit the ideal of a lot of things,” Scout said. “It came to a point where I heard so much that it wasn’t unexpected anymore.” But a clue as to what Scout was really made of emerged when she began communicating in English after only six weeks as a Bassett. She immersed herself in the language to the extent that as an eighth-grader, she placed second in a regional spelling bee that sent the winner to Washington, D. C.

“She had to be the best,” said Susi, a retired teacher. “She thinks, ‘I’m so different than everybody around me that I want to be perfect in some way.’ Scout began walking properly only after she had her big left toe amputated, as it was growing out the side of a foot that was missing half a heel. It was on a golf course that she learned how to run.

During a 2002 trip to Orlando, Fla., to see her prosthetist, Stan Patterson, she wanted to participate in a half-mile run at Disney World. So he crafted a special leg and had her practice on it at a nearby course, where she could fall on a softer surface.

“She’s the Michael Jordan type that whatever they decide to do, they just do it,” Patterson said. “It’s almost spiritual being around her.”

Scout had always participated in sports but had no control over basketball teammates who purposely didn’t feed her the ball, or a softball coach who refused to play her. Once Scout began running, she realized she could shine brightest in individual sports. She played golf and tennis at Petoskey High, while the Challenged Athletes Foundation provided her with grants to travel the country participating in running events and triathlons in which she competed in the cycling portions on a tandem bike.

She also found time to become a motivational speaker for the Challenged Athletes Foundation and came up with this line: “My leg is a large part of what I am, but it does not define who I am.”

Scout’s story was brought to the attention of Marvin Bush, the younger brother of President Bush and a man who has two adopted children. In 2004, he flew her to Washington, where she was given a tour of the White House.But with hopes of attending Stanford and possibly pursuing a career in politics, Scout was uprooted once again. Her father, Joe, a realtor, got a job in Palm Desert, where no one knew her story.

When Scout called Palm Desert golf coach Jack Stewart and told him about her disability, he wasn’t sure he heard her correctly at first and was skeptical of her ability. “You step back a little bit, and then you start really giving the negative pitch that we’re a really good team,” Stewart said. Scout came out for the team in August but was so stressed with homework, her Stanford application and adjusting to new teammates that she struggled with her game and considered quitting.

Stewart stepped in, having her fitted for a new driver with a shorter shaft and a larger head that gave confidence to an above-knee amputee who was having trouble generating power off the tee. Scout now fires nine-hole rounds in the mid-40s and alternates as Palm Desert’s No. 6 golfer despite still losing about 50 to 100 yards off her driving distance because of her height and apparent disability.

“She makes up for it with heart,” said Stewart, whose Aztecs team capped an undefeated regular season Tuesday. “She’s not our go-to person, she’s not the one we depend on, but she’s always there with that little smile.”

Because professional golfer Casey Martin successfully sued for the right to use a golf cart under the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2001, Scout can ride one in competition. Her only concern now is securing a spot on the postseason roster. The pressure that comes with it likely wouldn’t register much.

“Because you’ve had to endure so much, you know how to be able to look at a challenge in your life, face it, and tackle it with all the strength you have inside,” Scout said.

Having an iron will at her disposal sure can’t hurt.

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When will be my next post? After the knee surgery next month I hope 🙂 I need be stronger will to continue this blog journal.

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